Decide my next meal!
I've compiled a list of intriguing restaurants after perusing the Chowhound boards, but I can't decide which to try first...so decide for me! Realize that the list below has no rhyme or reason and spans high-end contemporary to budget ethnic food, but I'm looking for a place that left you really wanting to go back, regardless of price point.
Pacific Dining Car
Brasa Brasil Grill
Thanks everyone! Went to Hungry Cat last night at was very pleased.
Chef Lentz was in the kitchen, which from the reviews I've seen on Hound, is the way you want it.
1) Escolar carpaccio special (starter) - This was amazing. Really fresh, sliced thin, and a great tart citrus sauce. Very light.
2) Stone Crab claw special (starter)- I had to use every ounce of restraint to not order the King crab leg, and it could not have worked out better. Extremely fresh, with a really nice garlic aoli if you need it.
3) Pug burger - Probably would have foregone this for more seafood had I not been a bit hungover from a Halloween party the night before, but the burger was excellent. Its about 6" tall with its toasted muffin bun, so eating is a challenge. We ordered it without the Blue Cheese and it was the right call as the bacon and avocado provide more than enough flavor and any more would take away from the beef. Extremely juicy and quite hearty. Awesome frites.
4) Ling Cod + merguez sausage - This dish has issues. The cod was fresh & cooked to perfection, but the oily sausage juices and aoli topping just has too many competing flavors. The whole fish special (curry Dorado) looked better and will try that next time.
The hostess played the latest LA restaurant trickery that there were no reservations at 8:30, so our choices were 7:45 or 10:30. Went with 7:45 and promptly arrived 45 minutes late thanks to a 1:30 trip from Santa Monica, and the indoor tables were wide open. Ambience was lively....the bar is a popular choice for a meal, and unpretentious.
Would definitely return. Eyeing the Dungeness crab salad & King Crab leg for our return. So our verdict for the Lentz/Goin express is yea on Luques, Hungry Cat and blah on AOC.
Off this list I would say Hungry Cat. (If you like seafood.) I went to Tinto last Saturday and thought it was a bit overpriced but probably the best tapas I've had in LA- you have to ask for a basket of bread though or else they won't give you one. They may not even after you ask for one! I'd skip PDC- completely unimpressive and the last few times I've gone there, they didn't even get medium rare right- you might as well buy a good cut and make it yourself and use the extra $$ to invest in a nice bottle of wine to go with it.
Thanks for all of the responses. I do really like seafood, so I'll probably give Hungry Cat a chance first.
Wow, someone finally tried Tinto. I have to go there to settle another thread. In my Tapas quest, my recent experiences have me believing there is not a single good tapas restaurant in LA. Hopefully Tinto can become a first. Keeping my eye on Bar Pinxto opening as well.
Well, I wouldn't say it was amazing (re: Tinto), but probably the best in LA that I've tried thus far! The bread thing really ticked me off. The flavors were good- the ambience was nice. Loved the langostines and the jumbo scallops the most. I'd probably go back to try a few of the entrees- the duck is supposed to be good. Tinto is definitely worth trying.
I vote for Chameau! It's one of my very favorite restaurants in the city, with excellent food in a wonderful atmosphere. Since Tagine slid downhill last year when they switched into full tasting menu mode, Chameau is the best Moroccan game in town.
How Bossa Nova even got on the list completely baffles me. Its emphasis is all on rather pedestrian, CPK-esque pizza and pasta and salads, all with very little actual Brazilian food. For Bossa Nova to call itself a Brazilian restaurant makes about as much sense as Mozza's calling itself a sushi bar. I recommend placing Wood Spoon in Downtown in its place instead.
Of the list here, Via Veneto is the winner. I was shocked, as it is basically outside my doorstep. You have to make a resy because it's booked solid, but you haven't had Italian like this since Angelini Osteria or Capo. It's truly superb. It aint cheap though. Of the lower priced ones on your list, Cafe Brasil is one of my favorite spots. The "dark meat chicken" which doesn't sound appetizing, is delicious. Authentic food, but no atmosphere. Worth it though and I've returned many times.
i LOVE Hungry Cat. I suggest going there. My favorites on the menu - peel and eat shrimp ( and they'll peel them for you if you like ) lobster roll, ice cold fresh oysters, and i must say, the pug burger there is pretty great. if scallops are on the menu, order them. they do them so good. Also their cocktails are fantastic. Great Margaritas, and the cocktail of the day is always fresh and interesting. :-)
I definitely dig the oysters at Hungry Cat too, especially Malpeques if they're available. My favorite menu item, though, has to go to the king crab leg in mustard butter: It's served with a great piece of toasted bread to help sop up all the mustard butter (sort of like Provence by way of the Maryland coast).
Of the cocktails, my two favorites of the moment are the pimlico (a sour take on the mint julep, which is sweet) and also the hot tamale, which is essentially a margarita that uses tequila infused with fresno chiles.
The Hungry Cat
1535 Vine St, Los Angeles, CA 90028
Papa Christo is fab on Thursdays! Every time we go, we're stuffed with so much delicious food that we can't eat for most of the next day. What a bargain.
El Jeffe, you can skip Cafe Dahab. It's okay but not worth a special trip.
Via Veneto, Fraiche, Hungry Cat are all excellent.
I like Cafe Brasil for a casual dinner, the location on Venice is better than the one on Washington, byob.
The food at Tengu is fine in a trendy sort of way, but I find it overpriced.
Brasa Brasil is a very good deal for a lot of food (don't forget to byob). I prefer meat to be rarer than some of the ones we were served but they were very gracious about bringing us pieces that were less well-done.
Chameau is good but I prefer Tagine.